Cognitive computing is the answer to India’s problems, says IBM chief Ginny Rometty

Varun Aggarwal Mumbai | Updated on January 19, 2018 Published on February 05, 2016


Cognitive computing can solve many of India’s issues ranging from high air pollution to managing the shortage of teachers and doctors, IBM Chief Executive Ginny Rometty said.

A cognitive system can, for example, provide answers to questions such as what should you do with your savings and provide answers that are not predetermined, but thought over like how a human would do.

Speaking at IBM's flagship customer event, the THINK Forum in Mumbai, Rometty, who’s made frequent visits to India in the last couple of years, said, “India has the ability because the next level requires innovation. But innovation requires skills, rule of law and you got to have a government that wants it to happen—those are all the ingredients that you got to have. India has the opportunity but it needs scale to make that leap into that next area into innovation.”

Challenge of scale

She said the challenge of scale can be solved by using cognitive computing, which works similar to the human brain and goes much beyond the instruction-based computers.

IBM’ own cognitive computing system Watson came to limelight in 2011 when it was able to win against two of Jeopardy's greatest human champions, mimicking the human brain like no other computer had done before.

At the time, Watson had only 5 functions, backed by 5 technologies. Today, it has been advanced to 32 functions with about 50 technologies underneath. This, Rometty said, would allow Watson to not only solve business problems but also problems in the areas of agriculture, weather predictions, healthcare and education.

In India, IBM has partnered with Manipal Hospital to address the health issues concerning 1.2 billion people by bringing Watson Health to India. Rometty hinted that Watson for Education, could also be seen in India soon, allowing to improve education with limited number of skilled teachers.

In December, IBM launched a pilot project to solve Delhi’s notorious air pollution issue with the Delhi Dialogue Commission to apply leverage Internet of Things and machine learning combined with the cognitive computing and statistical modelling to provide the Commission with insights and recommended actions to improve air.

Rometty believes cognitive computing can predict problems in advance, giving the government enough room to fix it before it’s too late.

“We started this work (to curb air pollution) in China. The trick about cognitive learning is that it is now able to predict pollution sources and suggests what to do about it, four days in advance. With that you can actually produce something to change the outcome in future,” Rometty said.

She said every important decision that India makes will be assisted, augmented by a cognitive system. “I think this can have a profound impact on transformation across this great country. Cities are living organisms. So if you have a cognitive city and how these functions flow, you can find different outcomes on sustainability. With cognitive, you'll have better crop yield, you'll have ways to preserve water.”

Published on February 05, 2016
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